After spending most of the 2020-21 season filling in at centre half, Fabinho has moved back into midfield for the past two Liverpool games. And, after a long run of poor results, with Fabinho back in midfield Liverpool won both games.
It might be too early to say with certainty that it’s a return to salvage the Reds’ season, but it’s at the very least worthy of a minor uptick on the hope and excitement front for Liverpool fans—and, for that matter, for players and coaches.
“By losing our [centre halves] we lost our midfield as well,” reflected assistant manager Pepijn Lijnders on the impact Fabinho having to play much of the season in defence. “That’s where we lost our engine, and that’s a big problem.
“It’s something that created doubt in many different tactical aspects. We always tried to find the solution, but the solution needs consistency, and there were always different and new problems coming and took the consistency away.”
Liverpool now need to come back from their extended, three-week break without football and prove that their last two victories were more simply a pair of good results—that they were the sign of a side that has rediscovered its footing.
Still, it’s undeniable it was more than a case of Liverpool getting a pair of results in their last two games. Their underlying stats were improved, and to the eye, Liverpool simply looked better than during most of their difficult start to 2021.
“Coming back to Fabinho as the lighthouse, a proper ‘six’ just sees more,” Linjders added. “Top players like Fabinho, they have a huge spirit of initiative. There are just a few players in football who have this natural capacity to stop counters.
“He just always puts the team above himself. All our Brazilians have this characteristic. You get someone who is only concerned about making the team better, there is no space for ego. He is a real team player.”